Monkey Girl

August 20th, 2015

The problem with dying your hair purple right before you go bald is that it leaves purple stains on your scalp. I look like someone chopped at my skull with an axe.


This is not the look I am going for.  I shower and wash my hair with soap. The purple spots stay, but I scrub a bald patch on the top of my head. This is not the look I’m going for either.

My intention was to embrace the baldness. I’m gonna rock out with my cock out. But this is not how I feel. I have male-pattern baldness with spots. I. Do. Not. Want. I feel sorry for myself.

I had a friend in college, Bob; he’s a drag queen now, I think. I lived with him when I shaved my head, and he wanted to do a photo shoot with me in a pink frilly dress with a monkey tail and monkey gloves. We had captions: Monkey Girl eats a sandwich; Monkey Girl goes to the beach. I am brushing my teeth when I think: Monkey Girl is brushing her teeth.

And, I have a problem. I’m out of wine. Stephanie is coming over tonight, and we usually drink wine while our husbands have band practice. The AirSupply song is looping in my brain: “I’m all out of wine, I’m so lost without you.”

I explain to Chris, and he offers to go. But I can’t hide for the six months on the off chance that I will see an acquaintance.

I only buy my wine at Ridgewood Wine and Beer, on principle, because I like them. They’re nice guys, maybe misfits, who wanted to start a wine store. I know that Patrick’s dog died and that Ryan used to sell wine to Stephanie out of the trunk of his car. But, I just want wine. I wish I was more of a bitch so nobody would be a nice acquaintance. I don’t want to explain.

This is not a moment when I expected that courage would be required. I need to nut up. Monkey Girl will go to the wine store, the PTA meeting, the climbing gym, soccer practice, and the grocery store. Monkey Girl will be okay.

I go. It’s fine. They’re going to save my favorite rosé for me for when I come back in October. Rosé is delicious, but it’s been giving me a headache because my immune system is haywire. But maybe after all of this, my immune system will not think that a rosé the enemy.

I’m making every interaction exhausting because I am building it up in my head. Every person I see either knows what’s going on, or they don’t know. It doesn’t matter. What I need to understand is this: they just see me. They see Karen.


Monkey Girl is wearing a hat.

24 Responses to “Monkey Girl”

  1. Laurie J. Edwards on August 20, 2015 3:16 pm

    Monkey Girl looks cute with hat. Monkey Girl also looks cute with purple spots. Go, Monkey Girl!

  2. Julia on August 20, 2015 4:26 pm

    Monkey Girl really does look great in that hat. I get really anxious about what people see when they see me out sometimes, and it helps me to remember that – everyone is obsessed with their own little world, and my drama isn’t that big and important to the folks I see out and about. It’s a lot in how you carry yourself, right? And with that smile on your face, you could go just about anywhere, and that’s what I’d remember most.

  3. Kirsten Wheeler on August 20, 2015 4:38 pm

    Monkey Girl is bad ass!

  4. Gabrielle on August 20, 2015 4:51 pm

    Monkey Girl is totes adorbs.

  5. michiele on August 20, 2015 8:43 pm

    Love the blog, embrace the baldness, use it as an excuse to be shameless and utterly selfish. Finding the funny in all the awkward moments is a wonderful survival tactic. Ryan’s mom, one of Stephanie’s work posse and former baldie here.

  6. michiele on August 20, 2015 8:46 pm

    Love the blog, Embrace the baldness, use it as an excuse to be shameless and utterly selfish. Finding the funny in all the awkward moments is a wonderful survival tactic. Ryan’s mom, one of Stephanie’s work peeps and former baldie here. You rock and trust me you’ve got this!

  7. Bláthnaid on August 20, 2015 9:32 pm

    Sitting here getting my monthly tysabri infusion, your post has really brightened my morning thank you. Love your courage, you take it all in your stride

  8. Pat on August 20, 2015 10:27 pm

    Fierce hat!

  9. Laura on August 21, 2015 12:38 am

    Oh Karen, I Love You! I wish I could hug you. You are strong, and beautiful, whole, and magnificent in every way. It is OK to be vulnerable. I know you, and you are gorgeous inside and out, with or without purple spots—makes no difference. Love, Laura

  10. Shannon on August 21, 2015 12:41 am

    Hey there splotchy monkey. You fucking rock!

  11. David Kwee on August 21, 2015 8:09 am

    You’ve been bald before, enjoy being bald again. You could go all Halloween and add some fake blood to the purple. Or you could turn them into scars.

    Seriously, you’re rocking that hat.

  12. David Kwee on August 21, 2015 9:14 am

    Re: purple spots. You could turn it into a scar. Or add fake blood.

    Seriously rockin’ the hat.

  13. Cheri on August 21, 2015 10:37 am

    You look great in the hat! Scarves would look fabulous on you !

  14. Michael on August 21, 2015 6:05 pm

    I remember when I left the hospital, I was 112 lbs, wet. I wasn’t terribly self-conscious about going out in public, although I tired very quickly so it would limit my time. Hell, silly me even thought I could scramble around the rocks of Joshua Tree a month later – it didn’t go so well trying to chase Scott and Alex to the base of their climbs. Anyway, I do recall getting many looks from people. At the time, I remember thinking the women were checking me out. I realized a few years later that they were “checking me out” because I was frighteningly thin and look about as good as someone who basically hadn’t eaten for 2 months would look. A few purple splotches are nothing! I say wear them with pride.

  15. Wons on August 22, 2015 1:43 am

    It’s so cheering to see you looking sassy in a hat. Good thing you didn’t dye your hair red!

    Looking forward to your next post-

  16. Mom on August 22, 2015 10:08 am

    Love the purple; love the bald; love the hat! But really I just love the Karen! The hat really rocks!

  17. Melanie Moran on August 22, 2015 10:32 am

    Oh Monkey Girl, I love you so. The whole time I was reading this post I was thinking “put on a hat! put on a hat!” And then I got to the hat picture with your awesome Karen full of merriment smile and cried tears of joy. Next thing you know everyone in Raleigh is going to have purple scalps so they can be like you.

  18. lauraleepearson on August 23, 2015 11:17 pm

    Love you girl!

  19. Anonymous on August 25, 2015 10:11 pm

    I’m rooting for you…you’re amazing!

  20. David K on August 26, 2015 8:50 pm

    You looked great then and you look great now :)

    Always wondered what happened to Bob (if it’s the Bob I’m thinking of). We used to do a skit in the Diner where he would take my order, and I would say something rude, and then he would slap me in the face. Customers loved it.

    If anyone asks about the purple stains, there are a lot of ways you could go with it. Two come to mind immediately:

    1. Tell them that you were cursed with the “Gorbachev Gene”
    2. Tell them that it is a tattoo of Alaska attacking Central America

    Anyway. I hope you’re doing well. You’re in my thoughts, and I’m glad to see you’re writing about this stuff with your usual combination of sparkle and grit.

  21. Kerry on August 26, 2015 11:55 pm

    I love your hat, Monkey Girl!

  22. Kerry on August 26, 2015 11:57 pm

    Also, you could treat your head like a cast and get everyone to sign it.

  23. Kami on September 2, 2015 4:57 pm

    Karen, you brave woman. I am so proud to know you. Hang in there, Monkey Girl. We are rooting for you.

  24. Kim on September 8, 2015 5:27 am

    hey karen
    i’ve been bald but not purple at the same time…..fuck it it looks fine…..the hat is sharp… baldness was from breast cancer (dx 2 yrs after my ms) ouch! i found out i love extremely short hair with fringe around my face! hair is overrated ….. your beautiful! lots of love from raleigh…..go to my website and pick out a love gift…’s to bald girls!!!!!!!!!!

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